« Capitalism as a fetter | Main | The Brexit con »

July 22, 2018


Kevin Amos Carson

I would add that Marxism's crude theory of historical inevitability is arguably an outlier in the work of Marx himself, mainly represented in one paragraph of the Preface to Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy, and can be countered with tons of passages on the consciousness and self-activity of the working class as the subject actively engaged in building a successor system. The mechanistic vulgarity lies primarily in the official "Marxism" formulated by Engels in Anti-Duhring and Dialectics of Nature, and the incredibly crude diamat of Stalin's official "Leninism" developed after Lenin's death. And Althusser, of course.

Kevin Amos Carson

Re the significance of capitalism thriving after the abolition of slavery and imperialism, it's important to remember that imperialism never ended -- it was just superseded by neo-colonialism, with post-colonial states undertaking the previous policing functions of empire at their own expense while Western capital continued to own much of the looted and enclosed resource base and use multilaterally enforced neoliberalism and intellectual property as a legal framework to continue to export surplus capital and extract profits.

And the West abolished slavery and repealed the Corn Laws, etc., when the dominant faction of capital decided they had served their purpose and no longer suited their needs. But they continued to sit on the accumulated loot from previous centuries of colonialism and slavery, and collect enormous rents from it, even after formally abolishing it. It basically amounted to stealing everything there was to be stolen and then saying "OK no more stealing, starting... NOW!!!"


Were the east european dissident's not defeating it?


"When I was a young idealistic socialist I was told – again by people channelling Berlin – that it was impossible to achieve utopia because there are inescapable trade-offs between fundamental values such as equality and liberty. Some of those same people, however, are now blind to the trade-off Brexit reveals between sovereignty and prosperity:"

Again, the logic here is very faulty.

Just Saying "there are inescapable trade-offs between ... equality & liberty" or Just Saying there is a Brexit "trade-off ... between sovereignty and prosperity"

Does. Not. Make. Those. Statements. True.

They might be true in some situation. But they might not be. It is a matter requiring judgment.

Conceivably there is such a Brexit trade-off. But there might not be. It is beyond serious question that there is no sovereignty/prosperity trade-off between a country exiting the EuroZONE.

The Euro is so badly designed that one can safely say that if you took the most prosperous and well-run countries in the world - say Switzerland or Denmark - and ran them according to the crackpot Euro rules - that there would be widespread economic misery and massive strife in a generation.

Exiting the EU, regaining more sovereignty - whether that makes the UK more or less prosperous - is a real question. If so, is the trade-off [that only exists if "less" is the answer] worth it - is another real question.

Avoiding these questions is not thinking seriously about Brexit.


>> They attacked the Soviet Union for its denial of freedoms. But many of them opposed gay rights and “women’s lib”, supported Pinochet and apartheid and to this day are relaxed about coercion within the workplace. The freedom many of them value is the freedom to oppress and dominate others.

The most. Free, unfettered speech is only for bigots, who snivel like spoiled toddlers and invoke the specter of the gulag when the paying customers at for-profit institutions of higher learning (to whose taste they should rationally defer) refuse to let them on the property to air out their moldering list of unwanted opinions.

The rest of it, I’ll have take your word for.
It sounds reasonable.


This piece is absolutely horrendous and
hogwash in its entirety.

I can see why there is no author's name
penned to this Obamanation of an article.


Interesting thought, how do you run a communist society.

I think there is a difficulty at the core of the idea, however exploitative and deceptive capitalism actually is, the capitalist approach aligns with the natural self interest and selfishness of most people. This natural self interest and selfishness may arise from the way we are born and raised in family groups and tribes or it may be innate.

So it seems natural to think of political and economic development arising from family and tribal groups via war lords and kings to empires and nation states. All held together by some kind of selfish self interest and the tendency of one group to dominate another. Bolt on some sort of legal framework (and keep the ability to allow excesses) to control stability mainly in favour of the dominant group(s).

So how might a communist society evolve. This has happened where there is hardship and a need for co-operation but seems to adapt over time to the selfishness of people and allow the dominance of favoured groups. Whether this is natural with humans or a necessary part of any sort of society capitalist or communist I am not sure. But the tendency exists and a ideal communist society must I suppose develop a form of legal framework that on the one hand preserves stability and on the other hand prevents domination and excess by any one group. This difficulty does not seem to have been resolved either in communism or in capitalism.


Imperialism and slavery predate capitalism by thousands of years so I'm not sure they are so much accidental features of capitalism as commonly occurring features of human history in general.

Of course, you could be using classic leftist special pleading where imperialism and slavery (and colonialism and many other things) under capitalism are magically different from the same under non-Capitalist systems. Bit like how the Soviet Union claimed its imperialism didn't count because it only counted when capitalists did it!


I have often argued that Karl Marx wasn't a "Marxist" and that Adam Smith wasn't a "Capitalist".
They merely observed the world and drew some intelligent conclusions, many of which have then been taken out of context and distorted by others with their own particular axes to grind.

(Nice piece btw.)


Hypocrisy is perhaps the only constant in politics.

B.L. Zebub

Speaking of Isaiah Berlin and his famous essay.

The link below leads to a review of that essay. Sadly, the name of the review's author isn't recorded.

Reading what the reviewer has to say about Berlin and his pamphlet, I had a sudden epiphany: characters like Egmont Kakarot-Handtke, very well-known by his colorful comments to blog posts, can claim an illustrious intellectual antecedent in history and philosophy.


B.L. Zebub

"very well-known FOR his colorful comments" Ooops!


Chris has become more demented over time, alas.
I seem to recall both slavery (the gulags) and imperialism were pretty core features of 20th century communism.

Handy Mike

Bit meta this.


Quite a lot of this blog is like this - grubbing around among empirical social science for corroboration of socialism or critique of capitalism.

But this post's a stinker. Every single one of those seven points is awfully thin, and some of them are just silly.

The comments to this entry are closed.

blogs I like

Blog powered by Typepad